Tablets must evolve to survive

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The launch of the latest iPad was widely greeted with a great yawn from the collected tech community. It’s thinner! It’s faster! The screen has more pixels! But…why do I need any of these things? Last year’s iPad was already insanely thin, fast and with a beautiful screen. iPad sales have leveled off, and even Apple seemed to just want this launch to be over with, rushing through it quickly.

I still love my iPad, and for me, it does fill a unique use case in which I can read NYT, FT, Pocket and RSS feeds when I’m away from my laptop. But I agree that iPads, and tablets as a whole, must start innovating if people are going to continue to buy them and be excited by them.

One option is haptic technology. This article describes some fascinating options for what the integration of haptic technology could mean for tablets. It would create a “neo-sensory” experience, where we would get feedback from our inputs through touch, sound, instead of just vision as now. Imagine feeling real, changing texture when you touch the iPad, and you can see how this really opens up new possibilities.

Another, related option is to use the space in front of the iPad. Osmo is an example of a gaming device that does this. This is somewhat similar to what the Leap motion controller does for computers. This would bring tablets to new audiences and new possibilities.

Finally, another interesting option is outlined in this Quartz piece, which envisions a future where the tablet melds with the computers. Many have said that the iPad will eventually merge with the MacBook Air, but the Quartz article also suggests a future where the table becomes a continuation of the computer, where you seamlessly move things between the two. That would create more extremely useful use cases, both for work and play.

Sadly, none of these seem to be directly on the horizon, but if the iPad Air 3 is the same device again, the future of tablets will start to look bleak.

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